--Stefan Anitei, Science Editor, Softpedia
One man's search for the enhanced sexual performance and desire that only an aphrodisiac can give, ended with death instead of desire. Now New York health officials are warning residents to refrain from an illegal aphrodisiac made from--toad venom?
What won't humans do for love and sex?
The alert went out Friday after New York City's poison control center received a report from an area hospital that a 35-year-old man had died earlier this month after ingesting a small chunk of the hard, brown substance.
The product is sold at sex shops and neighborhood stores under names including Piedra, Love Stone, Jamaican Stone, Black Stone and Chinese Rock. It is banned by the Food and Drug Administration, but shipments from overseas suppliers still occasionally slip past customs.
According to Wikipedia:
An aphrodisiac is an agent which is used in the belief that it increases sexual desire. The name comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sensuality. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (i.e., the placebo effect). In particular, medical science has not substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.
The most famous of aphrodisiacs is probably "Spanish fly". Made from crushed beetles, more than a little can kill a human. It works--on farm animals--by irritating the mucous glands, creating an urge to scratch the itch with sex.
If sex is what one thinks of when their mucous glands are afire, then "Spanish fly" might be the Ticket to Paradise.
Some of the many substances considered by people as useful in increasing sexual desire are listed below.
* Arugula (Rocket) (Eruca sativa)
* Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
* Epimedium grandiflorum (Horny Goat Weed)
* Ginkgo biloba
Powdered rhino horn, oysters and yohimbe bark are also big--so to speak--on aphrodisiac lists. Alcohol, porn and money were also mentioned--most frequently by teen-age boys with the car keys on a Friday night.
Back to the New York aphrodisiac warning.
Buyers may have no idea they are dealing with anything illegal or dangerous. The various types of ``stone'' are often sold packaged in plastic, with a barcode, a price tag and official-looking instructions for use.
City health officials said the 35-year-old victim developed an abnormal heart rhythm after eating some ``Piedra'' he purchased at a neighborhood store.
He was admitted to the hospital complaining of chest and abdominal pain. Doctors recognized the problem and treated him for two days but couldn't save his life. His name was not released.
Health officials say the culprit was a hardened resin, made at least partly from venom collected from toads of the Bufo genus, containing chemicals known as bufadienolides that can disrupt heart rhythms. The aphrodisiac was supposed to have been applied to the skin, not eaten, but authorities said even that use can be harmful.
In case anyone is thinking, "But, I'll bet there's a safe way to do that," one poison control official had a few cautionary words.
``There is no definitely safe way to use it,'' said Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of the city's poison control center.
``Don't buy it. Don't sell it. If you have it, don't use it. Throw it out.''
Our advice to anyone thinking of buying black-market "aphrodisiacs": DON'T.
The New York man is only the latest in a long line of deaths associated with the pursuit of pleasure that aphrodisiacs promise.
If one is determined to pursue pleasure, a word to the wise:
Rent a XXX movie.
hat tip: Roxanne of WCBSNewsRadio880
* Aphrodisiac Kills New York Man
* Aphrodisiacs: Between Bogus and Reality
* Let's Get it On: The Ten Best Aphrodisiacs